Although I’m generally a positive person, I’ve been struggling with negative thoughts these past few days–struggling to maintain a positive attitude in the midst of a challenging few months. I’m working on a blog post which I hope to publish soon about positive things I’ve seen in my life as a result of cystic fibrosis. So perhaps it is fitting and right that in the midst of that, I’m being confronted with the negative and discouraging as well. After all, I don’t want to seem phony or naive.
The negativity is coming after a few months of not feeling great. I got that doozie of a virus in December and although I recovered from it, I have yet to feel like I’ve found a solid footing or hit my stride again health-wise. A lot of it has to do with timing. I finished my antibiotics right as the holidays hit and between celebrations, some traveling that we just now finished up, and some unusually full weeks, I haven’t gotten back into a good routine. I haven’t been able to exercise regularly, I haven’t gotten my weight back up (having the stomach flu last weekend didn’t help that), and I haven’t had consistent good sleep. I’ve been coughing more and struggling with my asthma. I have yet to regain the feeling of strength and resiliency I had been enjoying.
A couple of nights ago I was feeling headachy, sore and feverish thanks to that stomach flu. I had been coughing long and hard during my evening breathing treatment which made me vomit and I hurt all over. As I was getting into bed, I said to Jaime, “You know what, sometimes I just want it all to go away.” Not just the stomach flu, but everything about my body which makes “simple” illnesses like stomach flu or the common cold so troublesome for me. The frustration was overwhelming me. I know that God has taught me many good things through cystic fibrosis. But there are days and there are nights where I just want it all to go away. Sayonara CF, I don’t want you.
I’ve noticed that this negativity has crept into my thoughts elsewhere. I read on someone else’s blog how they don’t let CF get in the way of their life, and I thought, “That’s great, but eventually you will have no choice in the matter.” I may have even rolled my eyes and laughed a bitter laugh. I mean, I was that person. My CF didn’t interfere. But that can all change in the blink of an eye.
For the past several nights I have been waking up a lot, having night sweats and not sleeping well. I think it’s just my body dealing with the stomach virus and lack of food and energy from not being able to eat. Maybe some of it is due to the anxiety that goes hand in hand with these negative voices in my head. As I was laying there trying to relax and stave off the coughing that was threatening to undo the rest of the night, I thought, “My health is only going to get worse from here.” Good grief! What a depressing thought.
Even as I’m sharing these thoughts, they make me uncomfortable. This pessimistic person, this is not really who I am. I do have hope–bright hope! Hope in the Lord and in His plan for me, and hope that new treatments will be developed that will help me and extend my life. But I admit, sometimes I get sick and tired of having a good attitude. Sometimes I want to wallow in the mud and give in to discouragement. Sometimes, try as I may, I can’t push the bad thoughts away. I don’t want to learn and grow. I just want to feel good.
So what’s a girl to do? How do I get rid of those negative voices? Two things come to mind. The first comes from Hebrews 12:3 which says, “Consider Him [Jesus] who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.” Growing weary and losing heart perfectly sums up this past week. But considering Jesus helps in so many ways. It helps because I remember that I have someone walking alongside me who understands how I feel, and who knows me and my struggles intimately. I remember that He gives me the strength I need for one day at a time, whether it be a good day or a bad day. I remember that He faced more opposition in His lifetime than I will ever have to face. And I remember that He will bring good out of my struggle.
Considering Jesus also fills me with gratitude and gratitude breaks through negativity like nothing else. Jesus has given me the ultimate gift–life in Him and the promise of new life one day. New life without pain. But He has also opened the floodgates and poured so many blessings into my life right now. My basic needs have always been met. I am surrounded by family and friends whom I love and who love me. I’ve been given vocation and ministry. My life has purpose. I have a husband and a son who make every breath worth fighting for. When I count my blessings, I realize that they far outweigh my struggles. The cross I have been asked to bear is manageable, and I am equipped to handle it.
I am hopeful; I am thankful.
Sayonara negative voices, I don’t want you.